Influenza season arrives in PEI
The influenza vaccine for this year’s flu shots has arrived in Prince Edward Island and Islanders are encouraged to get their flu shot to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“In our efforts to minimize the impact of the flu in Prince Edward Island, we are proud to provide free flu shots for all Islanders at various sites across the province. For the first time this year, high dose influenza vaccine will be offered to all Island seniors free of charge. Getting a flu shot is a quick and easy way to protect ourselves, our families and our communities; it is an important step we can all take to stay healthy this flu season.”
- Health and Wellness Minister James Aylward
The vaccine is currently available at public health clinics, pharmacies, and nurse practitioners’ and physicians’ offices. Public health will be offering influenza vaccine by appointment only starting in early October; call 1-844-975-3303 or visit Flu Vaccination Clinics for more information and clinic locations.
“Getting a flu shot and washing your hands frequently is the best way to protect yourself from getting the flu or spreading the flu to those around you,” said Dr. Heather Morrison, the province’s chief public health officer. All Islanders are encouraged to protect themselves and get immunized, especially those who are at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza such as young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems or other chronic health conditions. This flu season is extraordinary because both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza viruses will be circulating at the same time. I encourage all Islanders to get vaccinated.”
There are many vaccines recommended for adults. All Islanders over the age of 65 should also get a pneumococcal (Pneu-P-23) vaccine. It helps protect against pneumococcal disease including a serious type of pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis. Islanders can take the adult immunization self-assessment tool anytime to find out what other vaccines they may need.
In addition to getting a flu shot, Islanders should practice the three C’s to limit the spread of any respiratory illness:
- Clean – properly wash your hands frequently;
- Cover – cover your cough and sneeze; and
- Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick.
Department of Health and Wellness
Influenza, also known as the flu, affects the airways and the lungs. It spreads easily through coughing and sneezing, or by touching things that have been contaminated by the virus and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose. It can sometimes cause severe illness or even death.
Why get vaccinated against influenza?
Seasonal influenza (flu) is a highly contagious virus. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Vaccination is the single most effective way of lowering your risk of getting the flu. When you get your flu shot, you protect yourself, your family and your community.
The flu can lead to serious complications for individuals with pre-existing illness (cancer, COPD or asthma), the very young and the elderly. Complications may include pneumonia, hospitalization, and death.
Individuals with symptoms of acute respiratory infection, including minor symptoms such as sore throat or runny nose, should defer influenza immunization until they have recovered, as they can pose an unnecessary risk to others and healthcare providers if they have COVID-19. Those who are self-isolating should defer vaccination for influenza until they are no longer required to isolate.
What is the flu shot?
The World Health Organization (WHO) determines the most likely flu virus strains to be circulating in the upcoming flu season. The vaccine is then manufactured to protect against these strains. Because the flu shot contains particles of inactivated (dead) flu virus, you cannot get influenza from the flu shot.
This year's flu vaccine offers protection against 4 strains of influenza viruses specified by the World Health Organization: 2 strains of influenza A and 2 strains of influenza B.
The following influenza vaccines will be made available to immunizers for the 2020-2021 influenza season for the following indications:
1) QIV injectable inactivated quadravalent vaccine for both adults and children (6 months of age and older
2) HD TIV for all adults 65+
3) Flumist QIV is for children 2 to 17 years of age and is available at Public health Nursing and some physician offices.
How does it work?
The flu shot protects against four strains of influenza viruses that experts anticipate will circulate during the influenza season. It does this by stimulating your immune system to build up antibodies against the viruses, making it stronger so that it’s ready to fight off the illness before it starts. Seasonal influenza vaccine is effective at lowering the risk of influenza illness and hospitalization depending on the age and health status of the person receiving the vaccine.
Why should I get it early in the season?
Getting your flu shot early in the season lets your immune system build up antibodies sooner, so it’s ready when flu season starts. It can take up to two weeks for antibodies to build up after you get the shot.
Who should get it?
The flu shot is recommended for everyone over six months of age. It’s especially important for:
- people with weakened immune systems
- those who have a chronic illness, including asthma or are morbidly obese
- residents of long term care
- young children
- pregnant women
- those aged 65 and over
- people who identify as Indigenous
- anyone who takes care of people in these groups
To reduce the risk of severe illness that could potentially arise from co-infection with COVID-19 and influenza, individuals who fall into the following groups are also particularly recommended to receive the influenza vaccine this fall:
- People at high risk of COVID-19 related illness
- People capable of transmitting influenza to those at high risk of severe and critical illness related to COVID-19
What are the potential side effects?
The most common side effect from a flu shot is soreness at the injection site. It is usually temporary and rarely interferes with normal activities.
What are the symptoms of Influenza?
Influenza symptoms can include sudden onset of fever, headache, muscle pain, runny nose, sore throat, extreme tiredness, and cough. Children may also experience nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms can begin about one to four days after a person is first exposed to the influenza virus. Fever and other symptoms may last up to seven to ten days, with the cough and weakness lasting up to two more weeks.
Where can Islanders receive the flu shot?
- Health PEI Public Health Nursing clinics (schedule of clinics is available at Flu Vaccination Clinics
- Family physicians and nurse practitioners offices
- Various pharmacies
Is there a charge for getting the flu shot?
All individuals living in PEI are eligible for a free flu shot. The government of Prince Edward Island covers both the cost of the medication, and the administrative fee.